Crab rationalization, implemented in 2005, was designed to address conservation and management issues associated with the previously over-capitalized derby fishery, reduce bycatch and associated discard mortality, and to increase the safety of harvesters by ending the race for fish. The program also introduced harvest quota shares to vessel owners and captains, as well as processor quota share to processors, based on their historical participation to protect investment in and reliance on the program fisheries.
The program has been controversial from the start on several levels, including processor shares and crew employment, and they are among many issues subject to discussion at this meeting.
The 244-page document concludes that in a general way the crab rationalization program has worked to reduce excess harvesting and processing capacity issues, provided greater opportunity for efficiency and efficient resource utilization, increased stability and predictability in preseason planning, and provided for a system of higher economic returns, along with better resource conservation, and reduced bycatch.
Read the full document online at www.npfmc.org.